5 June 2015, Friday – Second Emergency Pastoral Care Meeting for Family Members in Düsseldorf (2)

09The experts arrive: J. Reuss from the BFU (German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation); S. Rudolph (ombudsman for relatives of the victims of the crash of Flight 4U 9525 on 24 March 2015, appointed by the German government); Dr. A. Schmidt (Germanwings management board), S. Hammer, M. Rein (Germanwings Post Emergency Organization).
Mr Reuss takes the floor. He informs us that the German authorities are involved in the investigation of the causes of the accident as well as establishing the procedures in France. The French are planning to release a final report of 80-100 pages in about a year.
It has yet to be decided if family members will be allowed to view photos of the crash site which are not intended for the public.
We are quite interested and all of our questions are answered in detail.
Mr Rudolph, the ombudsman appointed to be our liaison by the government, is next. He offers us his condolences (as did the others) and those of the government and Chancellor.
The Germanwings representatives speak. We are furious because the return of our loved ones´ remains has been postponed indefinitely.
Some families have already planned the funeral date. Mourners from abroad have to cancel their flights, etc. I cannot understand why the required documents (death certificates, etc.) are still in France. As it happens, the majority of the German family members are from North Rhine Westphalia. Are we in Saxony the outsiders? (At this point we have no idea that in the near future our suspicions will be confirmed.)
In the meantime we have learned that the delay in returning the remains is due to translation errors and misspellings in the required documentation.
The confusion of the last few days has taken its toll on all of us. Tempers are frayed and people are irritable.
After a lengthy coffee break the Germanwings representatives announce that late in the evening of 9 June, 30 caskets from Marseille will arrive at the Düsseldorf airport. A return of remains ceremony is planned there for the following day, and ceremonies can also be held in other places if we desire. As the French funeral homes need time to prepare the remains, which first have to be placed in sealed zinc containers, the rest of the victims will arrive in Germany and their home countries a bit later.
Mr Rein and Ms Hammer assure us that Jens´s remains will be transported to the Leipzig-Halle airport within the next seven days. Melanie expresses her wish to accompany the casket from Marseille to Leipzig to Dr. Axel Schmidt, who also promises to help her.
We are glad we will be able to meet our son´s casket in Leipzig and lay him to rest. We have waited long enough. The uncertainty is almost unbearable.
The meeting is over and,  quite satisfied, we leave the hotel and go over to Melanie´s, where we will stay for the next two days. In the evening we walk along the Rhine in Düsseldorf and have a bite to eat and an altbier.

© Brigitte Voß / Translation: Ellen Rosenbaum


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